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Seattle Police Still Denying True Justice For Jaahnavi Kandula
An interview with Seattle journalist Erica C. Barnett.
Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student at Northeastern University, when his SUV struck her while she was crossing a clearly marked intersection at Thomas Street and Dexter Avenue. That was in January.
I spoke with journalist and author Erica C. Barnett at PubliCOLA last week about her ongoing coverage of the story, despite limited cooperation from the SPD. Every new bit of information uncovered about the circumstances leading to Kandula’s death was worse than the last.
You can watch my interview with Barnett here:
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Barnett reported in June that Dave was driving 74 miles an hour when he struck Kandula — the impact on her body crumbled his hood and shattered his windshield. He’d originally claimed he was driving at 50 miles an hour. The speed limit was 25 miles an hour, and even SPD’s forensic analysis of the collision stated that if he’d been going at 50 miles per hour and “responded in the same manner, this collision would not have occurred.”
Even then, Dave remained employed by the SPD. His case was referred to the King County prosecutor but he has not yet been charged. Even though, the level of negligence is astounding: Barnett reported later in June that Dave didn’t have his lights and siren on when he hit Kandula — not that it likely would’ve mattered at the speed he was going. Remember that 74 miles an hour is about 15 miles over the speed limit on Washington state freeways. In a city center, that speed is well past the point where a driver or pedestrian could respond in time. Although, that didn’t stop Dave from attempting to blame Kandula for her own death.
The incident report quotes Dave telling a sergeant who responded to the scene that Kandula “was in the crosswalk, she saw me, she started running through the crosswalk. Slammed on my brakes. Instead of staying back where she should before crossing, she just zips,” then made a motion with his hands from left to right.
A couple weeks ago, bodycam footage emerged of Seattle Police Officers’ Guild vice president Daniel Auderer mocking Kandula’s death, suggesting that the city would just “write a check” for $11,000, which would barely cover the CGI costs for Marvel’s “She-Hulk” series. He “joked” that Kandula’s life had “limited value.”
Auderer still has his job and the complete support of the police union, which grossly argued that the media presenting the bodycam footage “out of context” has “re-victimized” Kandula’s family. There is obviously no “context” that makes Auderer’s words less repugnant.
During a 2010 arrest, he and 14 other officers nearly beat to death a schizophrenic man, leaving him with brain damage and resulting in a $1.75 million settlement from the City.
Since then, the OPA has repeatedly investigated Auderer. In 2015, the agency did not sustain the complaint against him after he punched and choked a homeless man at the hospital, even though SPD’s Force Review Board said he had no justification for the use of force. In 2016, the OPA investigated him for punching a woman in handcuffs. The agency investigated him twice that year for punching women, the second of whom he punched in the face. None of these incidents resulted in consequences for him.
Meanwhile, a Texas teacher was fired for reading to students an apparently “naughty” section from The Diary of Anne Frank.
Jaahnavi Kandula should still be alive, and her death demands justice that will likely never come.
Seattle residents and those just interested in stellar local journalism, should check out PubliCOLA. I also recommend Barnett’s memoir, Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery.
Subscribe to his YouTube channel for more fun content.
Catch SER on his podcast, The Play Typer Guy.